At the age of 23, Tiffini Wissing Hein took the plunge and started Old School Cool – a company that aims to simplify the lives of parents by providing superior child care and transportation. Cool (Kids) Cabs is one element of Old School Cool, and provides safe, reliable transport for unaccompanied minors whose parents are engaged in various activities and are unable to collect them.
Hein started the business without a cent to her name. Her own vehicle was used by a driver and returned to her on completion of the daily route. With no qualification, no credit record and nowhere to borrow money from, she was determined to grow the business and confident in her vision. Hein shares how far she has come:
‘Seven years later, with a growing fleet of 25 vehicles, the business continues to challenge and delight me as an entrepreneur. And the success of the brand has given me sufficient confidence to be less concerned about the perceptions around my age. The entrepreneurial journey has been an immensely satisfying and enjoyable journey and learning experience, one which I do not regret for a second. The university of life teaches lessons one will be hard pressed to find in any book and I am hugely thankful for my youthful self and the braveness it took to take the leap.’
Part of Hein’s vision is to create sustainable and meaningful employment for women, and as such Old School Cool is staffed exclusively by females. Each of the ladies is hand-picked and the team is dynamic and growing. Hein explains her staffing approach: ‘We encourage development and spend a lot of time and resources on training. All but one member of our management team started in our employment as a driver and has been promoted, as a result of their talent, dedication and commitment to the team. Our unique offering is not only a direly needed service, it is also one driven by heart and a huge amount of passion.’
A lack of cash flow has been the company’s biggest challenge. Whilst the business has remained profitable and has experienced tremendous and consistent growth over the years, traditional financing has been used to secure vehicles and this has placed extreme pressure on their monthly cash flow. Overcoming trivial matters which impact staff welfare and contentment (such as parking and consumables) has also been a difficult lesson to learn. Maintaining the balance between healthy peer relations amongst staff, and enforcing necessary regulations and company policy, can be a difficult.
But Hein elaborates on a more personal struggle: ‘Having no corporate background, and only a partially completed degree, the self-doubt that occasionally permeates the brave facade can be debilitating. Trusting my gut and sticking true to the vision of the business has seen me through these challenging times. Holding on to an ever optimistic outlook on life has, on a more spiritual level, kept me focused and acutely aware of the bigger picture and higher purpose of the business – something which carries me when challenges seem insurmountable.’
Hein is driven by a desire to create a better world. This starts with her children and the example she sets for them.
‘As mom to two biological children and two children in foster-type care, all under the age of four, my home is busy and chaotic. But it is filled with love, filled with hope for the future, and it exudes what our beautiful country stands for.’ She also believes that if better is possible, good is not enough. ‘I push relentlessly at this concept. It results in continual expansion and the concept motivates me to holistic excellence. This vision is seen throughout our company, and I am blessed with such amazing ladies who buy into and support this concept! Continually striving to better oneself and the current status quo is essential. This spans over the treatment and welfare of staff, to the offering to clients, to the charitable causes supported.’
Cool (Kids) Cabs is highly recommended by their clients. The highlight of this recognition was being nominated for the 2015 702 Sage One Small Business Awards – a competition they went on to win. With their impeccable service record, and aspirations for the future, this is certainly a small business to be watched going forward.
Small Business Friday is brought to you by the NSBC and encourages all South Africans to interact and support small business everyday; especially every Friday and even more so on Small Business Friday, the first Friday of Spring every year. This grows local communities, drives job creation and ultimately builds the nation. With your support small business will be able to employ more, therefore reducing rates of unemployment and harvesting the entrepreneurial spirit.